Your newly transplanted plants and seeded areas will need to be kept moist for the first week to ten days after planting this November. This means once daily topwatering, or every other day if your topsoil is staying moist.
Topwater your plants either in the morning or evening, avoiding afternoons, using a watering can with shower spout or carefully with low pressure water so you do not disturb the plant and wash away seeds or soil. It is best to avoid watering the leaves of the young plants as much as possible as wet leaves are more susceptible to sunburn and mildew issues.
Provide enough water so the soil is moist but not wet. You should be able to form a small ball in your palm that slowly breaks apart. If it breaks apart immediately, it is likely too dry. If it stays as a tight ball, it is too moist.
Areas that have been seeded like beet greens, carrots, turnips, and radishes will need daily watering until they have germinated and grown to two to three inches in height.
Once your plants are established (seven to ten days), resume typical watering by topping off your reservoir once a week and avoid top watering.
Now that we are moving into Winter you, won’t need to use your umbrella much, but cool weather crops, like their namesake, thrive in cool weather.
To maintain soil moisture, so you aren’t having to water daily and protect your newly planted plants from heat stress, keep your umbrella raised for a few days (if your garden is naturally shaded, this is not necessary). After this adjustment period, raise your umbrella during temperatures above 75 degrees, which shouldn’t be often over Winter.
Leaving your umbrellas raised too long can cause your plants to stretch towards the sun (especially during Winter, when they are already getting less light). Make sure to keep your umbrella lowered unless we have unusually warm Winter weather.
A new season means new plants and different types of pests! This Fall and Winter be on the lookout for cabbage worms. These pests can devour a baby broccoli plant in no time. They are especially good at hiding under leaves. Look for all stages of this pest including tiny eggs on the underside of leaves, green worms causing damage to leaves, and white cabbage moths which lay eggs continuing the life cycle. Remove and squish to destroy these pesky critters. If you have chickens, this is an instant favorite snack!
Brassica plants (cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli, kale and mustards) are particularly attractive to grey aphids (commonly called cabbage aphids). You may have noticed them on your kale plants before, and they can quickly colonize Fall and Winter gardens, their favorite variety of plants to munch on. Squish these soft bodied insects to kill them and rinse them off of the plant. Make sure to thoroughly rinse your hands and arms before tending to other plants to prevent spread.
You may start to notice slugs visiting your garden as you topwater to establish your plants and especially once our rainier season starts. Pick off and squish any and all slugs you see. Use Sluggo, an organic, non-toxic slug bait to protect your plants.
Winter crops: worth the wait
Winter in Sonoma county is the perfect mix of sun and “just cold enough, but not too cold” to grow delicious leafy greens all year round. Our mild seasons allow for planting cool weather crops late Summer and again mid-Fall for an overflowing garden November through January. Many of our cool weather crops can withstand an occasional frost once they are mature; light frosts actually help make brassicas (broccoli, kale, cauliflower, turnips, radishes etc.) sweeter. When it comes to Winter gardens, a well planned and planted Fall means veggies all Winter!